“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Great Valley

The Great Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
1. The Great Valley Marker
Inscription.  I desired you to send the Things you used annually to send me … I … shall not import any more necessaries till the hateful acts are repealed. The Ministry promised to get a Repeal of that imposing the Duties on Glass Paper & Colours; But, tell Them in plain English, That alone wont satisfy America …" — William Nelson to merchant, Mr. John Norton in London, November 18, 1769

Before the American Revolution, this narrow footpath, cutting through the Great Valley, was a major thoroughfare that linked Yorktown's busy waterfront district with businesses and government offices on Main Street.

At the head of the Valley were the Nelson stores, started sometime in the first decade of the 1700s by English immigrant, Thomas Nelson. Nelson's merchant business thrived at this location, and richly supported the efforts to repeal British taxes on imports. In 1776, four years after his death, his sons, Thomas and Hugh, were forced to close the family business due to the war.

Declining tobacco yields and the 1781 siege crippled Yorktown's economy. In 1814, a fire destroyed the waterfront district and some buildings on Main Street,
The Great Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 23, 2016
2. The Great Valley Marker
The marker is to the far left in this view roughly to the east along Main Street. The Dudley Digges House is in the background with the Great Valley in between the Digges House and the marker.
including the Nelson stores. The town never recovered and fell into a quiet existence.
Erected by National Park Service: Historic Yorktown Colonial National Historical Park.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceWar, US Revolutionary.
Location. 37° 14.06′ N, 76° 30.408′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Nelson Street, on the right when traveling west on Main Street. The marker is at the start of a trail which leads down the Great Valley north to Yorktown Beach and the York River. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nelson House, circa 1730 (within shouting distance of this marker); Dudley Digges House, circa 1760 (within shouting distance of this marker); Charles Cox House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Early Colonial Custom House (about 400 feet away); Custom House, circa 1720 (about 400 feet away); Cole Digges House, circa 1730 (about 400 feet away); Cole Digges House, circa 1925 (about 400 feet away); Somerwell House (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yorktown.
Regarding The Great Valley.
The Great Valley image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
3. The Great Valley
The view is from Main Street north toward the York River.
The marker includes the following illustrations:

1. Sketched map captioned "Lieutenant Louis Berthier of the French army drew this billeting map of Yorktown after the 1781 siege in preparation for some of the French army to quarter in the town. The map shows the Great Valley as two streets converging into one and the Nelson Stores at the head of the valley."

2.Thomas Nelson's signature (the immigrant)

3. A typical 18th century store stocked many imported goods such as tea, sugar, and other household items. Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

4. Eighteenth century pottery shards excavated from the lower Great Valley.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 24, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 20, 2015, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This page has been viewed 388 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on March 20, 2015, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.   2. submitted on October 24, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   3. submitted on March 20, 2015, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 27, 2021